What every social researcher should know

sra logoThe SRA Blog launched two years ago and since then has become a fixture in the SRA’s publications stable, attracting 1000s of views online. The blog hosts all levels of social researcher from all research contexts. Our posts respond to current events, promote best practice and help spread the word about new methods, projects and findings. We are now looking for researchers to join the editorial team. This is a great way to move out your own research silo, expand your network, stay on top of your reading and sharpen your editing and review skills.

Who reads the blog?

The SRA Blog has over a thousand views per month, with our top posts clocking up over 2000 views over time (see links throughout this article). Posts are publicised on the SRA’s Twitter account (over 9000 followers), in the newsletter, via email alerts and on the SRA’s LinkedIn account (over 1000 followers). Each post is read by a sizable number of social researchers and their funders, partners and clients.

Who writes blog posts?

Sometimes we are approached by commissioners, agencies, government social researchers (GSR), independent researchers or academics with an idea for a post. They want to expand the reach of their findings beyond their usual audience.

Most often, we commission blog posts by approaching people we think would like to write for us (because they are part of a major project, they can offer a depth of expertise to readers, they can offer a perspective on current issues, or we know that they like to write and communicate). The blog team has connected with many researchers within and outside our own fields in this way, building new relationships and networks.

What do our authors blog about?

The blog is a place to find up-to-date, responsive, depth articles. We hosted the heads of profession for GSR during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic along with posts about the impact of the pandemic on research methods and researchers. We have collaborated with the Census 2021 team to produce blog posts about data quality and their outputs consultation. Members have used the blog to respond to the SRA’s ground-breaking research into diversity in the social research profession.

We have published blogs from early career researchers, senior leaders and career changers, who have generously shared stories about their professional pathways, successes and challenges.

We ask writers to candidly share their experiences of methods, ethical issues and the practicalities of doing research, to make sure that posts have real value to research practice. This includes posts on a range of approaches that ensure accessibility, inclusion and involvement for research participants.

Our style

Writers can be more informal (and sometimes tongue-in-cheek) than project reporting and journal articles allow. This can make tricky concepts, complex findings and large bodies of literature more digestible to researchers (and non-researchers) outside of a specialist field.

Coming up…

Especially useful are our regular ‘how to…’ style blog posts that introduce readers to some of the essential methods and concepts in social research. Think about what a Masters student should have on their reading list, and you can see that the blog is building up a bank of short, introductory articles that are becoming an essential resource. We are now actively seeking posts about high quality, long-standing datasets. If you work on or commission one of the large national surveys or datasets, or are a user of the data, we would really like to hear from you. What does every social researcher need to know about your dataset? What value does it have (e.g. to inform policy, evaluation and change)?

Join us

The blog editorial team members are nine volunteers plus the commissioning editor. We would like to invite new members to the team. Volunteers commit to a one hour catch-up meeting every quarter and to commission or write 3 or 4 articles per year. Team members are a vital part of our review process. We need researchers drawn from a range of fields and approaches to cast a critical eye on our submissions, assessing them for research quality and readability. This is a great way to move out of your own research silo, stay on top of your reading and sharpen your editing and review skills.

To find out more contact: Dr Cath Dillon at [email protected]

Thank you to the team

Anna Cordes, Food Standards Agency

Lucy Ellis, Youth Sports Trust

Dr Helen Kara, Independent researcher and writer

Andrew McKeown, Ipsos Mori

Sally McManus, City University and NatCen

Dr Sophie Payne Gifford, University of Hertfordshire

Patten Smith, Formerly Ipsos Mori

Dr Reka Solymosi, University of Manchester

Leanne Teichner, Data Cymru